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Climate-friendly room air-conditioners on hydrocarbon technology and new standards for natural refrigerants in China

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Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Programme Proklima
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Still today, most room air-conditioning systems worldwide contain HCFC-22 as refrigerant. In China, with 260 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions per year, they are the main source of ozone- and climate damaging HCFC-emissions. The air-conditioning sector is a fast growing sector in China with a huge impact on the global market as the majority of the world market is produced here. The predominant replacement options for HCFC-22 are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which are ozone-friendly but contribute to global warming. Alternative, environmental-friendly technologies are urgently needed to avoid negative climate impacts. The natural refrigerant propane (R290) is ozone-friendly, has a negligible climate impact and also leads to energy savings due to its specific properties. China’s industry is interested in introducing this new technology, but has some concerns regarding R290 due to its flammability. Furthermore, a regulatory framework with suitable standards for this technology is also still lacking. Projections show that the global demand for airconditioning will rise over the next decades, especially in developing countries. Currently about 105 million units per year are sold worldwide. More than one billion already installed units are serviced and refilled every year. A technology transition to climate-friendly refrigerants in the Chinese air-conditioning market would therefore also have an important positive impact on the global situation.